First Sunday of Advent + Matthew 21:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-8
The world has a calendar, beginning with January 01 and ending with December 31, 12 months long.
The Christian Church also has a calendar, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and ending with the twenty-seventh Sunday after Trinity, also known as Pentecost.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, Happy New Year!
The Church’s year does not have days, weeks, or months, it has seasons.
The season of Advent, is a period of four weeks, leading up to the Christmas season, which is twelve days long, and followed by the Epiphany season, the season of light, which begins with the coming of the wisemen, following a star, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that they would present them to the child Jesus.
Our advent wreath, which has three blue candles, one pink candle, and one white candle, works like a calendar, counting down the weeks until Christmas. Every week of Advent we light another candle on the wreath until all five candles are burning brightly.
Today and next Sunday we light blue candles. On the third Sunday of Advent, we light the pink candle. On the fourth Sunday of Advent we light the third and final blue candle. On Christmas Eve, we light the white candle, known as the Christ candle.
The color blue, which decorates our altar during the season of Advent, represents hope and anticipation. During the season of Advent, we eagerly look forward with excitement to God becoming flesh, and dwelling among us.
The word Advent means coming. During the season of Advent, we look forward to the coming of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary.
In the Nicene Creed we confess that we believe in One Lord Jesus Christ.
Who for us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven.
Let me repeat that again, Who for us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, came down from heaven, not to condemn us because of our sin, but to save us, to deliver us from sin, death and the powers of hell.
During the last three Sundays of the church year, which concluded last Sunday, the focus was upon Jesus second coming, when Jesus will come the second time to receive us to Himself, that where He is in heaven, there all who believe and are baptized would be also.
During the season of Advent, we wait with eager expectation, for Jesus to come the first time, as a baby, lying in a manger in a stable in Bethlehem.
During the four weeks of eagerly waiting for Jesus to come, we hear readings of Jesus coming.
Today, we hear the account of Jesus’ coming, riding on a donkey into Jerusalem.
Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to raise up for King David a righteous Branch, and He will be called The Lord, the Righteous One.
Jesus will reign as King and He will deal wisely.
He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land and all who believe will be saved.
Jesus is our King who will come to judge sin and condemn it.
Jesus is our King who will bring righteousness, that all who believe in Him and are baptized would be righteous as He is righteous.
This is why the crowds, on that first Palm Sunday, went before him and that followed after him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Hosanna means save us, deliver us, help us. And Jesus, the Righteous One, does just that, He saves us by making us righteous.
Jesus, the Righteous One, comes to us that like Him we would be righteous, that we would be looked at favorably when He comes again to judge the quick and the dead.
Jesus, our King, comes with humility and meekness.
Jesus does not come to be served but to serve; He is a humble servant.
Jesus comes as a baby, born in Bethlehem, in a stable, lying in a manger, born to a woman who was shamed. He is not born in Jerusalem, in the holy city, in a palace, where a true king would be born.
Jesus comes into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, on a beast of burden, on a beast of labor and working, a beast of suffering. Jesus does not come riding on a horse, which is a beast of war and power and strength.
As a servant, Jesus comes to humble Himself to the point of death, even death on the cross.
He does not come with wrath and judgment and condemnation.
As a humble servant, He gives up His life for His friends, laying down His life for theirs.
He makes our suffering His. He makes our sins His own.
As a humble servant, He endures suffering and pain, mocking and scorn, rejection and shame.
In humility and servanthood, Jesus continues to come to us today.
Jesus, the Righteous One, comes to make us righteous. He comes to save us.
Jesus comes with simple water and Word, in Holy Baptism, to make us His own.
In Holy Baptism, we receive the gift of faith, trusting in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and eternal life in heaven. Holy Baptism is anything but simple.
Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, comes with humble bread and humble wine and Word, in Communion, to make us participants in His death and resurrection.
In Holy Communion, we eat the very body of Jesus, which was born of the Virgin Mary and placed in a manger. We drink the very blood that was shed from the nail holes in His hands and feet, from the spear pierced side, from the thorn pierced forehead. In our eating and drinking we proclaim Jesus’ death until He comes again. Holy Communion is anything but humble.
Jesus, our Righteous One, our Lord and King, does come, and by His protection we are rescued from the threatening perils of our sins and saved by His mighty deliverance.
This is His kingdom. This is why He comes. May our Advent prayer always be, “Come Lord Jesus.” Amen.